The ability to travel is one of life’s greatest and sweetest gifts. Whatever reason you find yourself travelling, often we can find ourselves on the slightly less favourable side of travel, jet lag, usually visiting us during the night. Below we address the impact of jet lag and sleep.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is an imbalance in our body’s natural “biological clock” caused by travelling to different time zones. Our bodies work on a 24-hour cycle called “circadian rhythms.” These rhythms are measured by the distinct rise and fall of body temperature, plasma levels of certain hormones and other biological conditions. All of these are influenced by our exposure to sunlight and help determine when we sleep and when we wake1.
When travelling to a new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original biological schedule for several days. This results in our bodies telling us it is time to sleep, when it’s actually the middle of the afternoon. Or it makes us want to stay awake when it is late at night. This experience is known as jet lag.
Solutions to Ease Jet Lag
Change your watch to the destination’s time zone when you board the flight. The more you look at this, the more your brain is convinced of its new time zone. Once you arrive at your destination, always keep to your destinations clock and not the time that it would be at home.
By fitting in some last minute exercise, this will help to work out any stresses before your flight. If you can manage it, try to fit in exercise when you have arrived at your destination.
Say No to Caffeine
A massive trigger of jet lag is excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption when travelling. While sugary drinks may quench your thirst initially, the sugars and artificial sugars siphon out your body’s water storage by making your organs work harder to process them. It is important to stay hydrated when you are travelling, though on a long flight, in that case, you may want to opt for an aisle seat. Dehydration at an altitude causes toxins to build up quicker because oxygen is scarce and your body functions less efficiently, making you feel groggy after a long flight2.
Though it can be difficult while stuck in the plane or even in an airport terminal, try to get as much natural daylight as possible. Once you arrive at your destination it is as important to get it there too if it is daytime. Daylight is a good stimulant to regulate your biological clock.
Sleeping in transit
When trying to sleep on the plane, make sure you are doing so at the correct time of day at your destination. So if it is night time at your destination, try to sleep according to their times. Using a sleeping aid like Melatonin as this is a brain hormone that helps control the body’s circadian rhythm, a natural way to control your sleep. Also try this with some simple items like ear plugs, a sleeping mask and a neck pillow.
Remember to Switch Off
A massively important piece of advice is to turn off all devices a couple of hours before sleep as the lights and activities can prevent you from falling asleep by distracting your mind and creates a wake-up effects on the brain.
Be prepared for your next big trip with these simple facts. Travel happy, arrive refreshed.